Kata Tjuta and a Sheila Named Olga

The reddest place in the Red Centre!

In the Red Centre, Uluru isn’t the only natural wonder out there.  Located about 16 miles (25 km) to the west of Uluru is Kata Tjuta, also known as Mount Olga (or The Olgas).    These large domed rock formations are located about 227 miles (365 km) southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory.  Kata Tjuta is also located at the eastern-end of the Docker River Road, which leads to the remote Gunbarrel Highway.  Uluru and Kata-Tjuta are the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The alternative name, The Olgas, comes from the tallest peak, Mt. Olga.  Upon the request of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Mt. Olga was named in 1872 by renowned Australian explorer, Ernest Giles, in honor of Queen Olga of Wurttemberg (born Grand Duchess Olga of Russia, daughter of Czar Nicholas I).

“Can you make out the three faces? Notice the eyes?”

When I toured the Outback, it was such an eye-opening place; a land of great beauty and in such an isolated part of the country.  And my trip into the Olgas is quite memorable.  It all started with paying a visit to an unusual rock formation called the Three Men of the Rock.  There appears to be the image of three faces carved into solid rock; it is not a manmade carving, but an amazing coincidence.  The most noticeable feature were the protruding lips; it made me laugh!

“Are the canyon walls getting taller, or are the people getting smaller?”

“Anyone out there…”

“Burrows, burrows, and more burrows!”

Later on, my tour group headed into Walpa Gorge, which is the Aboriginal word for windy.  And it is quite an apt name, because strange things happen when the wind comes blowing through this gorge.  I know it sounds cliche, but I swear I could hear sounds coming from every corner of the gorge.  But the wind wasn’t the only sound of nature I heard.  The best was the sound of my feet shuffling through the sand and pebbles.  “CRINCH, CRUNCH.  CRINCH, CRUNCH.  CRINCH, CRUNCH.”  The shuffling was accompanied by the cacophony of a million little files buzzing everywhere.  It sounded more like, “CRINCH, CRUNCH, BUZZ-BUZZ.  CRINCH, CRUNCH, BUZZ-BUZZ.”  I felt like I was in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”, sans the steamy rainforest and dinosaurs.  Still, I was expecting a brontosaurus or a pterodactyl to come out at any moment.  As I continued walking into the gorge, I found myself asking, “Am I getting smaller, or is the gorge getting bigger?”  I felt totally dwarfed by the immense walls.  Nothing in my life could have prepared me for this hike.  The huge walls, the burrow holes, the shrubs, the appearance of a miniature jungle in the heart of the gorge, a little creek which resembled a billabong, and the way the suns rays seemed to hit the walls.

“Care for a little swim in a billabong?”

“A little oasis”

The coolest part was when I reached the inner sanctum of Walpa Gorge, and I came across a big puddle with plants surrounding it.  It was like someone took a shrink ray, and shrunk a desert oasis into a miniature model.  I dipped my fingers into the mini-oasis; the water felt cool, wet, and nice.  I could just picture a herd of miniature animals ambling out of the little reeds and coming to take a drink at the water hole.  It is often said that serendipity is the art of finding the unusual and beautiful when you least expect it.  Well this billabong inside Walpa Gorge was definitely a great serendipitous moment.

“Kata Tjuta landscape.”



About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to Kata Tjuta and a Sheila Named Olga

  1. Suzy says:

    Sounds like a very neat place. I love the color of the rock.

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